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Monkey Tail Cactus (Cleistocactus colademononis)

Cleistocactus colademononis, or monkey tail cactus, is a stunning plant that attracts the interest of many collectors and sweet lovers. This cactus is famous for its unusual appearance; got its name because of the appearance of a monkey’s tail. This amazing plant native to the Andes in Bolivia is not only beautiful to look at but is also a valuable specimen for botanical research.

Monkey Tail Cactus Origin and Habitat

monkey tail cactus

Native to the mountainous regions of Bolivia, the monkey’s tail cactus is most commonly found between 1,500 and 2,000 meters above sea level. It often climbs cliffs and other steep surfaces to thrive in rocky, well-drained soil. Its natural habitat provides the cactus with plenty of sunlight and a temperate environment, which is essential for its growth and survival.

Monkey Tail Cactus Physical Characteristics

The monkey tail cactus long, cylindrical stem, covered in fine, hair-like spines, is its most striking feature. This stem has a maximum length of 2.5 meters and a maximum diameter of 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters. The white or light yellow spines give the illusion of fur, like a monkey’s tail. Mature cactus stems tend to droop or hang down, making them a great choice for hanging baskets or tall shelves.

This plant produces deep red or magenta flowers in late spring to early summer. These tubular flowers are known to attract pollinators such as hummingbirds, and can grow up to 6 cm long. The blooms are quite beautiful, and often contrast nicely with the green stems.

Cultivation and Care

Although the monkey tail cactus is generally considered easy to care for, special attention is paid to its unique growing needs. Here are some important tips for growing this unusual cactus:

Light Requirements: Bright, indirect light is ideal for growing monkey tail cactus. Growing in rocky crevices, it receives filtered light in its natural habitat. To ensure enough light when grown indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window. But sunlight can burn the thin spines, so you may need to provide some shade.

Soil and Watering: Monkey Tail Cactus prefers a well-drained juice or sugar mixture. It requires little water as it is best stored dry. Watering once every two weeks throughout the growing season (spring and summer) is usually sufficient. Watering can be reduced to once a month during the dormant season (autumn and winter). One common mistake that can cause root rot is overwatering.

Temperature and Humidity: Although it can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, the Monkey Tail Cactus likes warm conditions. Although it can survive temperatures as low as 5°C (41°F), it must be protected from frost. Because this cactus is accustomed to the high conditions of its natural home, humidity is usually not a problem.

Propagation: Propagating monkey tail cactus is not very difficult. Stem cuttings, which are best taken in spring or summer, can be used to propagate it. Before planting cuttings in well-draining soil, they should be allowed to dry for several days to allow callus to develop. It usually takes several weeks for rooting, and the soil must be kept moist during this period.

Common Issues and Solutions

Monkey Tail Cactus is tough, but can face some common problems:

Pests: Cacti can be infected with mealybugs and spider mites, which feed on their growth and can cause stunted growth or wilting. Use of neem oil or insecticidal soap along with regular inspections can help control this pest.

Rot: Root rot is a dangerous disease that can kill a plant and is often caused by overwatering or poor drainage. This problem can be avoided by ensuring that the soil is well-draining and allowing it to dry out between waterings.

Sunburn: Sunburn is the result of exposure to strong, direct sunlight and can turn the spines brown or yellow. You can solve this problem by moving the plant to an area with filtered sunlight.


The stunning Monkey Tail Cactus combines striking beauty with relatively low maintenance requirements. It is a great addition to any plant collection with its unusual, cascading stems and bright flowers. Hobbyists can appreciate the beauty of this cactus and watch its graceful growth over time by being aware of its natural habitat and unique care requirements. The Monkey Tail Cactus will bring a bit of exotic charm to your home or yard, regardless of your level of cactus collecting experience.


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